Many Dead As Boats Sink Off Libya

libyaHundreds of people are said to have died from the two boats carrying about 500 migrants which sank off Libya.

According to a Libyan official, about 200 people have so far been rescued.

The first of the boats which capsized on Thursday had 50 people on board, while the second was carrying over 400 people.

According to the United Nations (UN), about 2,400 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year.

More than 100,000 others are said to have landed in Italy, while another 160,000 have crossed to Greece.

Meanwhile report suggests that more than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015. This is a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

Macedonian Police Fires Tear Gas At Migrants

Macedonian policeMacedonian police have fired tear gas and stun grenades as thousands of people try to enter Macedonia from Greece.

It came up a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency in two border regions to cope with an influx of migrants, many from the Middle East.

The state of emergency was declared because of the number of people wanting to head north to Europe, leading to desperate scenes of crowds battling to board packed trains.

There were several attempts to charge officers by angry people among a crowd of 3,000 from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

They had spent the night in the open in a no man’s land between the two countries after Macedonia sealed its southern border to migrants and refugees.

At least eight people were injured in the confrontation earlier and one youngster was seen bleeding.

Large numbers spent the night stuck on Macedonia’s southern frontier, and tried to charge police in the morning.

The Balkan nation has become a major transit point for migrants trying to reach northern EU members.

Some 44,000 people have reportedly travelled through Macedonia in the past two months.

An 18-year-old Syrian man told Reuters he was able to cross overnight into Macedonia, but others were caught and drove back.

“I ran fast and escaped,” he said. “They got my brother and most of the others and sent them back to Greece.”

Greece, particularly on the tourist hotspot islands, has been overwhelmed by the influx because some 160,000 had arrived in the country so far this year.

Others have walked to Bulgaria from Turkey before making their way through Macedonia or Serbia before heading north to the EU.

Some 39,000 migrants, mostly Syrians, have been registered as passing through Macedonia in the past month – twice as many as the previous month.

The situation at the border with Greece is not helped by Macedonia’s tense relationship with Athens.

The dispute originates over the Macedonia’s name after it declared independence from the then Yugoslavia in 1991.

Greek Parliament Set To Vote Reforms To Secure Bailout Deal

bailout deal-greekThe Greek parliament is set to vote on a set of reforms needed to secure its bailout deal. The vote is expected to pass with the support of opposition parties.

But Greece’s public sector union is planning to protest against the measures.

The bill lawmakers would vote on Wednesday to cover rules for dealing with failed banks and speeding up the justice system.

If MPs approve the financial and judicial reforms, Greece would be able to press ahead with negotiations for an 86 billion Euro bailout from its creditors.

The Greek Health Minister, Panagiotis Kouroumplis, said “We are making an effort to have fewer dissenters”.

He said there were doubts about whether the new measures could pull the recession-hit economy out of its impasse.

“But since we agreed, we must implement them.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), confirmed on Monday that Greece had cleared its overdue debt repayments of 2.05 billion Euro and was no longer in arrears.

The repayments, and another for 4.2 billion Euro to the European Central Bank due on Monday, were made possible by a short-term EU loan of 7 billion Euro.

IMF Criticises Third Bailout Plan For Greece

IMFThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has criticised a third bailout plan for Greece, saying the deal offered by eurozone leaders may already be in jeopardy.

The lender said that Greece’s public debt had become “highly unsustainable” and some form of debt relief was now required.

On Tuesday, the IMF made public the advice it had given to the euro-group of finance ministers at the weekend.

That advice included proposals that would see some of Greece’s enormous debt written off.

The disagreement between the IMF and Greece’s European creditors over how best to deal with the country’s debt crisis has been hinted at before.

But this is the first time such a disagreement would be made public.

The eurozone leaders had on Monday sealed an agreement with Greece over a third bailout after long-winded talks at an emergency meeting.

The development was revealed on twitter by the Chairman of the European Union, Donal Tusk.

“Euro summit has unanimously reached agreement. All ready to go for ESM program for Greece with serious reforms and financial support,” Tusk said, referring to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund.

Eurozone Leaders, Greece Agree On Third Bailout

Eurozone leaders on GreeceEurozone leaders have sealed an agreement with Greece over a third bailout after long-winded talks at an emergency meeting.

The development was revealed on twitter by the Chairman of the European Union, Donal Tusk, on Monday.

“Euro summit has unanimously reached agreement. All ready to go for ESM program for Greece with serious reforms and financial support,” Tusk said, referring to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund.

The BBC quoted him as saying that the EU leaders agreed “in principle” on negotiations for the bailout, “which in other words means continued support for Greece”.

In the meantime, the Eurozone had earlier said Greece did not present any concrete proposals to request for a new bailout.

However, Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said that after a “tough battle”, Greece had secured a “growth package” of €35bn (£25bn), and won debt restructuring.

Subsequent to the agreement, the country will on Wednesday, need to pass reforms demanded by the Eurozone.

Nigeria, Greece Sign Ship Acquisition Deal

shipNigeria and Greece have signed a deal that will enable Nigerian ship owners to own vessels that would be transferred to them by their Greek counterparts.

At a ceremony held recently in Lagos, Nigerian ship owners were offered 40 ships of various tonnage and class from Greece, with ownership transfer after a period of 24 months.

Nigeria imports about 1.7 billion litres of petroleum products each month but does not own a single vessel to participate in the global maritime trade.

This new vessel acquisition agreement will help Nigeria to protect its maritime industry and ensure indigenous participation in the shipping business worth about three trillion dollars annually.

Nigeria and Greece are two countries on two different continents faced with socio-economic troubles.

Greece faces another crucial decision this Sunday to sort out a multi-billion euro bailout deal with the European central bank.

Greece Has Not Presented Any Concrete Proposals – Eurozone

GreeceThe Eurozone says Greece has not presented any concrete proposals to request for a new bailout.

The union’s statement is coming after the ballots were counted as Greece voters rejected the terms of an international bailout in a poll with 61% “no”, against 38% “yes”.

In the meantime, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms, despite the European officials’ caution that the debt crisis could see the country ejected from the Eurozone.

In another development, Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who often clashed with creditors also resigned.

However, Greece made a presentation earlier on Tuesday to request for a new bailout, but nothing was put on paper.

The country’s new Finance Minister, had been expected to draft a new letter requesting for European stability mechanism support.

The Minister is also expected to present proposals from the Greek side on what the substance would look like, so leaders could reach an agreement.

Greek PM Announces Capital Control To Prevent Banks’ Failure

Greek PM Announces Capital Control To Prevent Banks' FailureGreece’s Prime Minister (PM), Alexis Tsipras, has solemnly announced capital controls to prevent Greek banks from collapsing under the weight of mass withdrawals.

The PM made the declaration in a televised address on Sunday night, after a breakdown in talks between Athens and its creditors plunged the country deep into crisis.

In another development, European leaders had gathered for an emergency summit in Brussels that could break the deadlock around the debt crisis facing Greece.

The Greek Prime Minister set out new proposals to try and prevent a default on a 1.6 billion Euros ($1.77 billion) International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

However, Greeks woke up on Monday to shuttered banks, closed cash machines and a climate of rumours and conspiracy theories, sequel to Tsipras’ pronouncement.

The country has less than 48 hours to pay back IMF loans and a default would set in train events that could lead to the country’s exit from the euro currency alliance.

EU Leaders Agree To Relocate 40,000 Migrants

eu on migrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have agreed to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

At a late-night meeting in Brussels, the summit Chairman, Donald Tusk, said 40,000 migrants will be relocated to other EU states over the next two years.

However, there will be no mandatory quotas for each country.

New figures from the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, UNHCR, show that 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year and 62,000 in Italy.

The summit Chairman had earlier called on EU member states to share the burden of the loads of illegal migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.

Media reports says that leaders have agreed to resettle another 20,000 refugees who are currently outside the EU.

It is also reported that French President, Francois Hollande, said he expected most of the refugees to be Syrians and Iraqis.

Meanwhile, details of where the refugees will go is yet to be decided.

Greece Debt Crisis: EU Leaders Gather For Critical Summit

greeceEuropean leaders are gathering for an emergency summit in Brussels that could break the deadlock around the debt crisis facing Greece.

On Sunday, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, set out new proposals to try and prevent a default on a €1.6bn (£1.1bn) International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

The proposals, according to an European official, held plenty of promise.

Greece risks crashing out of the single currency and possibly the European Union (EU) if it fails to repay the loan by the end of June

Talks have been in deadlock for five months. The European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are not willing to unlock the final €7.2bn tranche of bailout funds until Greece agrees to economic reforms.

The three creditors must agree to the deal offered by Greece, to ensure Monday’s talks have a clear focus.

Further findings revealed that if deposit withdrawals continue at the current pace, Greek banks will soon exhaust eligible assets they can pledge to the Bank of Greece for cash under the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) scheme.

Before then, the ECB could turn off the ELA drip feed because it is forbidden to allow the Bank of Greece to lend to insolvent banks.

Jonathan Receives 2014 Pilgrims Report

PilgrimsThe Federal Government has restated its commitment to encouraging state governments and the private sector to increase the sponsorship of Nigerians who want to perform the holy pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece.

President Jonathan made the declaration while receiving the 2014 pilgrims report from the Federal Government delegation led by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oristejafor.

The President commended the pilgrims boards and the Federal Government delegation for a job well done and pledged to continue to improve on the success story.

Before submitting the report, the Chairman of the delegation, Pastor Ayo Oristejafor, told the President to, among other recommendations, adequately fund the embassies in Rome, Greece and TelAviv in order for the missions to serve their roles as pilgrims posts.

He asked the government at the federal, states and local levels to sponsor pilgrims to the holy land especially as it serves as a tool for moral and spiritual transformation.

Over 12,000 pilgrims were said to have performed the 2014 pilgrimage with a 45% increase in self sponsorship.

President Jonathan announced the dissolution of the 10-man Federal Government delegation whose function has been to observe the pilgrims and report back to government.

He said a new membership of the Federal Government delegation would be constituted in the near future.

Nigeria’s Quadri To Represent Africa at 2014 ITTF World Cup

ITTFThe International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has confirmed Nigeria as one of the countries to participate at the 2014 World Cup.

Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri would represent Africa in the Men’s World Cup taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany on October 24 to 26.

Quadri secured qualification during the maiden African Top 16 Cup that took place in Lagos and the Nigerian would be making a second appearance at the tournament after his debut at the 2009 edition in Moscow, Russia.

For the women’s World Cup, Egypt’s Dina Meshref would be Africa’s representative when the tournament serves off in Linz, Austria on October 17 to 19.

The International Table Tennis Federation has confirmed that 20 women and 20 men would compete at the two events holding next month.

The players qualified for the prestigious World Cup events through their exploits at Continental Competitions, which simply means only the best of the best can compete.

Other players that earned automatic qualification to play in the 2014 World Cup were the current World Champions, Jike Zhang of China and Xiaoxia Li of China, while the two lucky players to receive a wildcard into the events are Greece’s Panagiotis Gionis and Romania’s Elizabeta Samara.

Some of the top stars competing at the 2014 World Cup include Olympic bronze medallist, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who will be aiming to win his first Men’s World Cup, judging by the home support he would enjoy in Dusseldorf.

Ovtcharov would be the locals’ favourite to win the Men’s World Cup, as would Austrian Liu Jia in the Women’s World Cup.

Liu qualified by sensationally winning the DHS Europe Cup earlier, and would be keen to take that strong form to Linz where she hopes to win a medal.

Asides Nigeria’s Quadri, other players competing in the men’s World Cup are China’s Jike Zhang, Greece’s Panagiotis Gionis, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, Denmark’s Michael Maze, France’s Adrien Mattenet, Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, Germany’s Timo Boll, India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta, China’s Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, Japan’s Matsudaira Kenta and Hong Kong’s Tang Peng.